FPGA vs Microcontroller vs Microprocessor – Difference and Comparison

What is FPGA?

FPGA is the abbreviation of Field Programming Gate Array – a specially designed integrated circuit that necessitates the operation of a specific application. Experts suggest that an FPGA is not fixed in its design and functionality. Instead, it can be changed or modified to perform the same function for another application. FGPA consists of several rudimentary units called configurable logic blocks (CLBs).

The aforementioned logic blocks, or CLBs, are further supplemented by a circuit of programmable interconnects. This system of interconnects is termed fabric. FPGA has a lot of implicational benefits, ranging from their extended availability in the market to develop a powerful system to the rapid functioning of different software. Their functionality is crucial in making applications work correctly.

What is Microcontroller?

To understand a microcontroller, it is better to think of it as a small computer designed to perform a single operation efficiently and efficiently. The microcontroller is, in fact, a specialized circuit that regulates a peculiar process in a system. They play an extraordinary role in contemporary technology, with equal usage by professional experts, amateur researchers, and students. Their applications range from ordinary electronics to massive military systems.

The scope of functionality of a microprocessor is quite limited to a specific operation, but its capacity to perform and handle it makes the microprocessor valuable. In terms of size, the word “micro” itself implies smallness, whereas the word “controller” implies its powerful capacity to perform its assigned function. There are three major components of a microcontroller: the central processing unit, memory, peripherals, and support circuitry.

What is Microprocessor?

The microprocessor refers to the central unit of a system that controls all its other parts. The primary function of a microprocessor is to perform arithmetic and logical operations – commonly known as processing. The microprocessor is like the brain of a computer system without which a computer fails to perform any computational task. The working mechanism of a microprocessor is taking data in binary form, processing it, and supplying it as output. ALU, CU, and a register array play their part during the processing.

Microprocessor entails a number of benefits that makes befitting for a computer system. They are smaller in size and can be easily embedded in a system without worrying about weight and space. They are average in terms of pricing and are not unbearably expensive. Experts prefer them because of their exceptional processing speed. Their power consumption is also very low, and they are durable for longer periods of work.

Difference Between FPGA and Microcontroller and Microprocessor

  1. FPGA is a specially designed circuit to facilitate software operation; the microcontroller performs a single task; the microprocessor performs arithmetic and logical operations.
  2. FPGA’s processing speed is 00 MHz to 200 MHz; a microcontroller has a relatively lower processing speed; a microprocessor has a higher processing speed.
  3. FPGA’s memory capacity is 256K x 16; a microcontroller has limited memory capacity; a microprocessor has flexible memory capacity.
  4. FPGA has a small size; a microcontroller is also smaller in size; a microprocessor is relatively larger.
  5. FPGAs are now more affordable; a microcontroller costs less; a microprocessor bears a relatively higher price.

Comparison Between FPGA and Microcontroller and Microprocessor

Parameters of ComparisonFPGAMicrocontrollerMicroprocessor
DefinitionSpecial Circuit for Software OperationA Small Computer to Perform a Single Task EfficientlyA Computational Unit Performing Arithmetic, Logical Operations
Processing Speed00 MHz to 200 MHzLowerHigher
Memory Capacity256K x 16LimitedFlexible
Size & DesignSmallerSmallRelatively Larger


  1. https://www.nowpublishers.com/article/Details/EDA-005
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Eu1JHU-2Jo8C&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=microcontroller+and+microprocessor&ots=ClWvrUHyO6&sig=Wp9e-0ZRPanLfChOjSra9SjPUG0
  3. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/707616/